Kezailiao

The Music Is Not Over
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2018 / May

Lynn Su /photos courtesy of Jimmy Lin /tr. by Phil Newell


Kaohsiung’s Ke­zai­liao fishing village, which at first glance looks no different from many communities along the western seacoast of Taiwan, seemed to come out of nowhere in 2012 when it hosted the independent music festival “Small Oyster Rock.” The festival became an overnight sensation, attracting upward of 10,000 visitors, and even President Tsai Ing-wen and Kao­hsiung mayor Chen Chu took time out to attend. But it was suddenly suspended after the 2015 event. Now that the show is over and the people have all gone home, Ke­zai­liao relies on its fish market and seafood auction, which attracts the usual tide of people each weekend, including many families.

 


 

Kezailiao, which has “a small temple every three steps and a large one every five,” cannot really be said to have any impressive scenery. On weekdays one only sees a scattering of old people walking about, and occasionally hears the far-off sounds of children playing. But when we walk into the Tzu­kuan Fisheries Association shop right next to the fish market, by paying close attention we discover many details worth pondering.

These include the sculpture Mullet Roe, which incorporates children’s handprints and footprints; the “Premium Wild Mullet Roe Gift Box,” priced near NT$10,000, that won a Hai­yan Premium Seafoods Award; the souvenir gifts whose packaging in the form of a six-sided fish basket and a mullet fish won Red Dot and iF design awards…. Everywhere one sees expressions of the unique history of Kezailiao.

The golden age of mullet 

Kezailiao means “oyster shack,” and it turns out the village is so named because back in the Japanese colonial era residents raised oysters in the estuary of the Dian­bao River. But Ke­zai­liao’s real heyday was around 1980, because at that time each November to February fishermen would catch mullet that migrated southward in large shoals from the mouth of the Yangtze River. The fish followed the Ku­ro­shio Current to Taiwan’s southwest coast to spawn, bringing these fishermen abundant income.

The price for mullet was good, with each fish, male or female, selling at a market price of over NT$300. This “golden age of mullet” gave rise to many unique aspects of fishing village culture. For example, during the mullet fishing season every family would cook mullet with rice noodles and dry mullet roes in the sun. Vic ­Huang, sales director at the Tzu­kuan Fisheries Association, mentions the custom of “tian­zai,” whereby local residents would lay “bets” on the fishermen they thought most highly of, by delivering rice, drinks and firecrackers before the boat went out to sea. If a big catch was brought back they could claim several fish, and the practice added luster to the fishermen’s work.

Similarly, Yu Chia-jung, editor-in-chief of the local magazine The Blowing of the South Wind, recalls that when he was a child and his father went to sea, if the vessel returned with a large catch, Yu would help his father give away mullet from his share of the catch to friends and family who lived nearby. People would often repay this gift with vegetables, or would give the child candy or some pocket money.

However, though the sea gave good incomes, the risks were high. Especially in that less high-tech era, fishermen would go to sea for a week without any communication. Yu Chia-jung says half-jokingly: “Even now when we see a helicopter [which would come to recover bodies] it sends a shiver down the spine.”

Small Oyster Rock

The Small Oyster Rock music festival, which created quite a sensation in its time, in fact started out as a community event initiated by residents themselves. This amazing indie music festival was launched with funds raised by local citizens. There was no government subsidy or corporate sponsorship, and it didn’t aim to make a profit. Even though it has been discontinued for a few years now, many people still talk about it enthusiastically.

The second festival in particular, which had a richly cultural and educational feel, left a deep impression. The band Sorry Youth, formed by guitarist Weni, drummer ­Chung-han and bassist ­Giang ­Giang, played the festival for three years running. ­Chung-han recalls how the organizers used an old fishing boat as the stage, and put up marquees on the beach to create a “cultural and creative hall” where they exhibited old photographs of Ke­zai­liao, paintings by retired fisherman Yu Chen-yun, and so on. Besides watching the performances, visitors could get to know the local area and make connections with Ke­zai­liao. ­Chung-han says, “Their imaginative approach turned it into more than just a musical event.”

It was always the tradition at the Small Oyster Rock festival to have appearances by students from Ke-Liao Junior High School and Ke Liao Elementary School. Besides choir and lion dance performances, for the ­second festival a professional drama teacher instructed the ­junior-high students, who performed a play with Ke­zai­liao as the theme. The performance was staged at the peak of the festival activities, the evening of the second day, when there were the most visitors.

This resonated with Shih Ho-feng, a film director who had come to make a documentary after hearing about the music festival. In 2014 he shot Small Oyster Rock in Ke­zai­liao (released in 2015), with the festival as the center of attention. The following year he put the focus on the junior-high students who had performed, joining with director Chen Hui­ping to make Oceans Tide You Home (2015).

The strength of local affection

This same afternoon, Tsai Deng-tsai, who operates a construction business in Ke­zai­liao, along with Kuo Chin-shun, who runs a fishing net business, and several other local business owners in the areas of fishing nets, metals, hand trucks, and automobile insurance, are gathered for a meal at a seafood restaurant near the fish market. Tsai and Kuo were two key promoters of the Small Oyster Rock festival.

Giang ­Giang describes this group as “uncles who really need to party.” Their life routine involves meeting frequently with seafood and alcohol as essentials, and kara­oke on occasion to liven things up. When Tsai Deng-tsai explains it to us we gradually come to understand that this is because in the past making a living from the sea was a high-risk endeavor. As Tsai puts it, “Life was something you held onto by chance.” Fishermen didn’t think about saving money or accumulating assets for the future. Often when they came back from the sea, they felt as if they had survived a disaster. Having made a tidy packet, they would drink or even gamble, seeking pleasure in the moment. This culture of drinking and of living only for the present, which started with their fathers’ genera­tion, continues to this day.

These unique environmental factors not only shaped the generous and optimistic character of local residents, it also produced a deep attachment to their hometown, in turn generating powerful cohesiveness.

For the festival, Tsai Deng-tsai and Kuo Chin-shun took responsibility for fundraising and public relations, targeting their fundraising efforts on the hometown friends with whom they normally drank and hung out together. ­Tseng Jhih-ling, a young homestay operator familiar with the indie music scene, handled contact with the singers and bands who were to perform and the execution of the festival. Li Xian­lang, a retired teacher from Kao­hsiung’s Hai­cing Vocational High School of Technology and Commerce, took charge of administrative work and getting government permission to use the site. Yu Chia-jung took on the task of implementing the cultural and creative program. And both before and after the festival, volunteers from the neighborhood watch team, as well as volunteer moms and dads from Ke-Liao Junior High and Ke Liao Elementary, were enlisted to clean up trash and put the venue in order.

In this way, the energies of the whole village were mobil­ized for the Small Oyster Rock festival, and famous singers and bands including ­Hsieh Ming-yu, Lin Sheng­xiang, Pa­nai, Sorry Youth, and the Village Armed Youth Band (aka Armed Youth) all joined in this great undertaking.

Inexhaustible stories

Because of Small Oyster Rock, this quiet little fishing village began to come alive.

Yu Chia-jung, who had been back in Ke­zai­liao for nearly a decade, had always felt it was a quiet place. After getting over his surprise at seeing news of the upcoming first festival on Facebook, he stepped up to volunteer. ­Tseng Jhih-ling had returned to Ke­zai­liao to operate a homestay, and got to know Tsai Deng-tsai because the three-sided family compound that she wanted to use for the homestay needed its roof repaired. Thanks to this happenstance, she ultimately became an important behind-the-scenes promoter of Small Oyster Rock. Shih Ho-feng had come here to make a film but ended up joining the team and taking part in their discussions. Even the performers who participated were conquered by the enthusiasm of the “uncles.”

After three editions in four years the fame of Small Oyster Rock was skyrocketing, but there were problems of traffic and noise brought by the large number of visitors. There was also the challenge of how to maintain the original intent while allowing the festival content to continue to evolve. Therefore, it was decided to call a temporary halt after the 2015 event.

Although the Small Oyster Rock festival has been discontinued for the time being, new stories continue to emerge in Kezailiao.

For example, in recent years Tsai Deng-tsai has opened a seaside restaurant called Yi Man Yu, with ­Tseng Jhih-ling serving as manager. From time to time singers perform there, and it also hosts lectures on topics of current interest, acting as a platform for cultural pluralism. Not far from the restaurant, Yu Chia-jung has rented several old Minnan-style houses where he expects to open a fusion space that will combine a bookstore with a lecture space, a homestay, a bar and a personal workshop. He recalls: “When I first began getting the houses in order, it was volunteer moms and dads from the schools who came here together to cut the grass!” This group of people who interact all day long have indeed never left.

Kezailiao is like many out-of-the-way locales in Taiwan that attract no special attention, yet it isn’t like your run-of-the-mill remote community. It is this group of special people, who deeply love their hometown and who stick together, that have enabled this lonely piece of land to shine brightly on the map. It stands straight and tall, blossoming like a lone flower in a strong sea wind.

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蚵寮漁村歌未央

文‧蘇俐穎 圖‧林格立

位於高雄梓官的蚵仔寮,乍看之下與許多西部海岸沿線鄉鎮並無二致,2012年起,像是異軍突起,舉辦了獨立音樂節「蚵寮漁村小搖滾」,喧騰一時,吸引約萬人參與,就連總統蔡英文、高雄市市長陳菊當時都曾前往觀賞,卻又忽地在2015年宣告暫停。燈熄人散以後,唯獨靠海的觀光拍賣魚市,每個週末依舊人潮絡繹,吸引不少親子家庭前往。

 


 

三步一小廟、五步一大廟的蚵仔寮,實在稱不上什麼絕美風景,平日只見稀稀疏疏的老人家走動,偶爾才聽見遠方傳來孩童的喧鬧。不過,當我們走入就開設在魚市旁的梓官漁會門市,只要悉心留意,就能發現許多值得玩味的細節。

包含以有孩童手掌、腳掌拓印的「烏魚之子」雕塑;價格直逼萬元,曾獲「海宴水產精品獎」的「頂級野生烏魚子禮盒」;採用六角魚簍、烏魚造型,獲得德國「紅點設計獎」、「iF設計獎」獎項的伴手禮等……無不細細道出蚵仔寮的獨特身世。

苦樂交織的烏金時代

原來,蚵仔寮雖以「蚵」為名,這是源於日治時代先民在典寶溪出海口養蚵之故。但蚵仔寮最風光的年代,當數1980年左右,由於每年11月至隔年2月,會有大批烏魚從中國長江出海口往南洄游,到台灣西南沿海產卵,在此被漁民攔截,為漁家帶來豐厚的收入。

烏魚價格好,不論公母,1尾至少有300元以上行情,出海一趟若豐收,便能賺得上百萬收入,隨著「烏金時代」的蓬勃,也孕育出許多獨特的漁村文化。好比汛期期間,家家戶戶煮烏魚米粉、曬烏魚子,梓官區漁會供銷部主任黃志雄提到「添載」的習俗,即是當地居民向自己看好的漁家下注,在出海前便先送米、送飲料、送鞭炮,豐收後也能分得幾尾,漁家也錦上添花。

同樣是當地人的《透南風》雜誌主編余嘉榮則說,童年時父親出海,若是豐收回航,船長會依慣例將收穫的十分之一分贈給同隊船員,還是孩子的他便幫著父母親把分到的烏魚轉贈給住在鄰近的親友。收到的人常以菜交換,甚至塞給小孩糖果、零用錢,時間又臨近春節,感覺既豐足又熱鬧。

然而,討海收入雖好,風險也高,尤其過去科技不發達,漁民出海一趟約一個禮拜,音訊全無,余嘉榮說:「小時候念書時,只要看到校長臉神凝重走到教室,跟老師竊竊私語,再叫某個同學出去,就知道一定是家裡有船難。」他半開玩笑地說:「現在我們只要看到直升機(來打撈罹難者),都還有陰影啊!」

意外爆紅的漁村小搖滾

轟動一時的蚵寮漁村小搖滾,其實是一場由當地居民自發性發起的社區型活動,這場令眾人跌破眼鏡,只從民間募款,不靠政府、企業贊助,也不以營利為目的的獨立音樂節,即便停辦多年,仍讓許多人津津樂道。

由吉他手維尼、鼓手宗翰、貝斯手薑薑組成的「拍謝少年」,連續3屆登台演出。薑薑說,搖滾樂因為獨特的文化形象,常受到居民排擠,但蚵仔寮當地人並不了解這些樂團,卻意外地熱衷參與這一場盛會,令他們嘖嘖稱奇,他說:「他們都很享受那個festival的氣氛,甚至會看到他們自發性地指揮交通、撿拾路上的垃圾。」

尤其饒富文化、教育意味的第2屆,更叫人印象深刻。宗翰回憶道,主辦單位利用了廢棄漁船當作舞台,並且在沙灘上以帳篷搭出「蚵板印象」文創館,展出蚵仔寮的老照片、漁夫素人畫家尤辰允的作品等,遊客除了觀賞表演,還能認識地方,與蚵仔寮發生連結,宗翰說:「都是因為他們的想像力,才讓這些事情變得不一樣。」

表演節目上,有蚵寮國中、小學生粉墨登場,更是小搖滾的一貫傳統。除了合唱團、舞獅團的演出,第2屆甚至有專業老師指導國中生,以蚵仔寮為主題,演出舞台劇,演出時段更選在活動高潮、遊人最多的第2天傍晚。

這件事,讓因為風聞小搖滾而來的紀錄片導演施合峰心有戚戚:「我自己是雲林斗六人,許多來自鄉下地方的孩子,外出念書時講到自己的故鄉,往往沒什麼自信;加上我們的教育,一直以升學為優先,缺乏鄉土教育。」他說:「這個演出,就是創造出一個機會,讓小朋友站上舞台,主動去跟觀眾說,我的故鄉是一個很美、很棒的地方,你們應該要來認識這裡。」

感動之餘,他把所見所聞放入自己的作品。2014年,先以小搖滾為主軸,拍攝《蚵子寮漁村紀事》;隔年,聚焦於這批演出的國中生,與導演陳惠萍共同完成《離岸堤》。

人情攏絡起在地勢力

就在這個午後,在蚵仔寮從事營造業的蔡登財,以及從事漁網生意的郭進順,加上幾位經營漁網、鐵材、板車、汽車保險生意的老闆,就聚在魚市附近的海產店用飯;而其中的蔡登財、郭進順,便是促成小搖滾的關鍵推手。

薑薑用「一群很需要開趴的大叔」來形容這群人,三不五時的聚會,必備的海鮮、燒酒,偶爾還有卡拉OK助興,就是他們的日常生活。而在蔡登財的解釋下,我們才逐步了解,原來,是因著過去討海的風險高,蔡登財形容,「命就像撿回來的」,漁民也不懂得要積攢錢財為日後作打算,往往出海回來,就像大難不死,大賺一筆之餘,就是喝酒,甚至賭博,只圖個當下的痛快。從父執輩開始的嗜酒文化,與及時行樂的態度,也一脈傳承至今。

特殊的環境條件,不僅造就他們海派樂觀的性格,也淬鍊出對於故鄉的情深意濃,繼而匯聚起強烈的向心力。郭進順提到,原來,小搖滾誕生的契機,是源於蚵仔寮當地一直都有製作愛心書桌的傳統,每年向鄉親募款,再集結當地居民,利用工作餘暇製作書桌,免費餽贈給偏鄉學校。

而2011年活動結束後,剩下一筆餘款,大家動念,除了用作聚餐以外,說不定還可仿效墾丁的春吶,邀請歌手演出,大夥兒聽音樂、喝啤酒、烤肉,豈不快哉,這個點子,被當時回到老家經營民宿的年輕人曾芷玲聽到,平日便有關注台灣獨立樂團的曾芷玲,一口向蔡登財承諾可行,小搖滾的目標也就此確立。

因著過去討海不易,漁民渴望心有所託,造成當地廟宇林立,祭祀風氣盛行,平素就有管理廟宇事務的蔡登財說:「我們可是把這場活動當成進香的規模在辦!」

由蔡登財、郭進順負責募款、公關,募款的對象,就是平素一起喝酒、往來的鄉親;曾芷玲負責聯繫樂團演出、執行;海青商工的退休老師李賢郎,擔綱起行政工作,向政府單位借調場地;余嘉榮則負責執行文創企劃;活動演出前後,再動員起社區巡守隊的志工與在蚵寮國中、小的志工爸媽,前去撿垃圾、整理場地。

就這樣,動員了整個漁村能量的蚵寮漁村小搖滾,包含謝銘祐、林生祥、巴奈、拍謝少年、農村武裝青年等知名歌手樂團,都曾共襄盛舉,並獲得空前的成功。

漁村故事,永不止歇

因為小搖滾的緣故,寂靜的漁村開始轉動了起來。

回到蚵仔寮近十年的余嘉榮,一直覺得故鄉很安靜,直到從臉書上看到第1屆小搖滾的消息,在大吃一驚之餘,自告奮勇地去作志工;曾芷玲則是回到蚵仔寮經營民宿,因為要做民宿三合院屋頂的整修工程,才結識了蔡登財,最後因緣際會成為小搖滾重要的幕後推手;施合峰從前來駐點拍片,最後甚至加入工作團隊,一同參與討論。

連來參與的表演者,也紛紛為海口大叔的熱情所收服。這既不像一般的商業演出,彼此的關係也就不同於尋常的主辦單位與表演者,薑薑說:「一般的主辦單位也不會打電話問你要不要回來吃飯吧!」這樣微妙的變化也改變了演出的本質,少了制式用來炒熱氣氛的橋段,更多是台上台下熱烈且自然的互動,維尼回憶著:「尤其你知道大哥他們會在後台看你,就像被朋友包圍的感覺。」

雖然,在舉辦了3屆以後,小搖滾的名氣扶搖直上,但是大批遊客所帶來交通、噪音的問題,加上如何不失初衷,活動內容又要持續演進,再再都是挑戰,因此,在2015年活動落幕後戛然喊停,「未來還是會辦啦!」郭進順肯定地說著。

小搖滾雖然暫停了,漁村裡的故事持續在發生。好比說,有在小搖滾裡演出的學生,受到啟發後選赴中華藝校就讀,還在暑假自發性組成「蚵寮青年工作隊」,帶同學回來認識故鄉;施合峰因為看見蚵仔寮鄉親對於故鄉的深情,動念搬回自己的故鄉斗六居住。

這個從風土裡自然長出的音樂節,也激勵了台南安平「南吼音樂季」、台南左鎮「故鄉是我的愛人」音樂會、彰化「叫春小搖滾」等地方音樂節的誕生,熱情的海口大叔也義氣相挺,南征北討地趕去聲援。

近年,蔡登財也在蚵仔寮海濱投資開設了「意滿漁」餐廳,曾芷玲擔任店長,店裡時不時有歌手駐唱,也舉辦時事議題講座,作為引入多元文化的平台;余嘉榮在距餐廳不遠處承租下幾幢閩式古厝,預計開設成結合書店、學堂、民宿、酒吧、個人工作室等功能的複合空間,他回憶著:「一開始整理房子的時候,也是學校志工爸爸媽媽一起來除草的!」這群朝夕相處的人,確實從來不曾離開過。

蚵仔寮,就像台灣許多不起眼的偏鄉,但也不像一般的偏鄉。是這群特別的人,懷抱對故鄉的一往情深,以及不由分說地團結,讓這片寂寥的土地在地圖上熠熠發亮,就像濱海的花蕊,風狂,卻挺拔,孤芳自賞地綻放著。

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